Before you write a business plan ask yourself these 9 questions

Author
Amanda Orton
Marketing Executive | Business West
1st March 2017

Your idea light bulb is shining bright, you’ve had a revolutionary new business idea and you cannot wait to get started turning it into a real-life business. Before you embark on the lengthy and somewhat laborious task of writing a business plan, ask yourself, are you fully prepared? The following nine questions will make sure you’ve put in the groundwork to ensure your business idea is viable.

1. Do you have the passion?
Starting a business is a big commitment and you will need to have a passion for what you do. You will be sacrificing many hours of your life to start your business and it’s certainly not going to be an easy way out of working for your boss. You will have to ensure that you are mentally, financially and emotionally prepared and that you believe in your idea, because this is key to your start-up flourishing into a successful business.

2. Do you know your product inside out?
Ensure you’re able to outline the key features of the product or service that you’re planning to offer. If you can’t talk about your business in detail it means that you haven’t put enough thought into developing your offering. If you can explain not only what your product or service is, but what makes it different from competitors, the benefits, how it’s produced and why people should buy it, then you are ready to start talking to people about your idea.

3. Does your idea provide an effective solution to a current problem?
Your business should always provide some sort of solution to an existing problem, but does your idea provide the best solution? Does it provide a long term solution? Most importantly, does it provide the optimal solution? If not, now is the chance to tweak and change your idea until it’s the best it can be.

4. Does your product or service already exist?
You’ll need to do some research into your competitors. Having competitors isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you will need to identify them and highlight what makes your business different. You’ll need to have a unique selling proposition and be able to win and also maintain a profitable market share. You can also use this time to see how similar businesses promote themselves and which markets they appear to be targeting. Learn from their mistakes and recognise what makes them successful.

5. What is the ultimate aim of your business?
Although your business is just starting out, you should have a solid vision and overall aim. This will provide you with direction and give you something to work towards; without this you may loose direction and even end up heading backwards. Think about what you want to achieve, how you will measure your success and what is important for your business.

6. Have you asked your family or friends for feedback or conducted a survey?
Before you release your business idea out into the public realm you should consult friends and family. Only ask people who will give you an honest answer, otherwise you’ll be wasting your time. After this you should start to conduct surveys with a wider audience that will provide you with much more well rounded opinions. Try testing your idea at community fairs or markets, demonstrate your product or service and talk with people first hand to find out what they think about it.

7. Have you identified your customer base?
Begin by creating a simple website landing page with information about your business with an option to leave feedback or to ‘sign up’ to find out more. By taking out digital advertising through Google and social networks like Facebook, people will click on the link if they are interested in your business. Setting up an initial campaign such as this isn’t too costly and is a great way of finding out if your business really has a market.

8. How much capital will you need and do you need additional funding?
It’s important to identify how much capital you will need to start your business, as failing to take every expense into consideration will be costly. Explore different funding options such as start-up grants and loans to assess your different options. Each type of finance has different eligibility criteria, so make sure you qualify.

9. Have you identified local support networks?
Starting a business can seem daunting, but there are a wealth of services out there to provide you with support and guidance – you aren’t alone! Industry experts can help you understand how to maximise opportunities and further identify the needs and characteristics of your target market. A mentor is a valuable asset to anyone starting a business and this avenue shouldn’t be overlooked. A mentor will work with you one-on-one and provide you with honest advice and guidance. They will likely have great knowledge and experience and will help you to avoid making costly mistakes. If you begin to feel stressed and overwhelmed, your mentor will help you to work through the problems that you may experience. Attending seminars and workshops is another great way to develop the skills and knowledge that you will need to get your business of the ground.

Need help with your business plan? If you’re unsure where to start with writing your business plan, or you want to make sure your plan is investment ready, book a place on one of our popular business planning workshops and our experts will guide you to success. View dates.

 

 

Do you want to join the conversation?

Sign up here
  • Still don’t know where to start?

    If you’re unsure where to start with writing your business plan, or you want to make sure your plan is investment ready, book a place on one of our popular business planning workshops and our experts will guide you to success.

  • Subscribe to our enterprise newsletter

    Register today to subscribe to our monthly enterprise newsletter, filled with the latest news, events, blogs and guides for entrepreneurs and business owners in the South West. Just select 'starting a business' as your area of interest.